UVM study shows wild bees lead to better berries

BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) New research from the University of Vermont on wild bees has farmers buzzing.

Researchers studied nine blueberry farms in Vermont. They found most farms in Vermont are pretty on target for pollination levels but there is room for improvement. Improvement that could translate into more money.

The study's authors estimate depending on the farm's size, encouraging more wild bees could increase revenues potentially by thousands of dollars. And when you go to pick them, they say you'll notice better berries.

"So we show that farms with more bees have berries that are larger-- so that's quantity-- but they're also consistently larger. They tend to be big, juicy berries," said Charlie Nicholson, a co-author of the study.

They found the berries also ripened earlier at farms with more wild bees. Only 9 percent of the bee visits the researchers recorded were honeybees. We asked why wild bees were more important and Nicholson says it's because the honeybees can't shake the pollinating parts of the plant as well.